Dying Light 2 Interview — Producer Talks Next Gen, Zombies, Choices, Stadia, and World Density
Dying Light 2 Producer Kornel Jaskula and Lead Designer Tymon Smektała answer several questions about Techland's upcoming Zombie game.
The biggest surprise of E3 2019 and my favorite game of the show was Dying Light 2 from Techland. While I was only a moderate fan of the series beforehand, the insane amount of polish, fun gameplay, and emotional story I saw in my behind closed doors presentation floored me. Right after the game shot up to being one of my most anticipated titles of 2019 during that presentation, I was able to sit down with Kornel Jaskula, a Producer over at Techland, in order to learn more about the project.
Over the course of our discussion, Kornel Jaskula and I cover plans for Dying Light 2’s post launch support, his thoughts as a developer on Google Stadia, how the zombies of Dying Light 2 stay scary in the ever competitive zombie game scene, how much Techland guides the player when it comes to in-game choices, and more. At the end, two questions DualShockers asked Dying Light 2 Lead Designer Tymon Smektała in a general Q&A session following the hands-off demo are also included.
Dying Light 2 releases for PC, PS4, and Xbox One in Spring 2020.
Interview with Techland Producer Kornel Jaskula:
Tomas Franzese: Dying Light was supported well for years after its initial launch. Did Techland always want to make a sequel to Dying Light or did you just focus on supporting that game before moving onto a sequel?
Kornel Jaskula: We always, from the very beginning, wanted to go into a second one. [Post-launch support] is something the community wanted from us to get more content, more adventures in the original. So we knew that we wanted to create a second part, but we also wanted to support those players that bought the original game with extra content, additional missions, additional maps, additional weapons. That was our goal from the beginning. The same is going to go for the sequel. We, right now, can confirm that we are going to support it for years.
TF: Dying Light 2 is releasing in Spring 2020 just months before next generation consoles such as Project Scarlett will likely arrive. Will the release of next gen consoles less than a year after the game’s launch impact post launch support at all?
KJ: There are many consoles out there with the current generation so we believe that they are not going to be scraped just after the release of the new generation of consoles. There’s going to be many consoles out there that will still need support. Players will still use the current generation consoles so the market is going to be as big as it is right now. There’s not going to be fewer players.
TF: In Dying Light 2, Aiden is infected. Does that have an impact on gameplay at all?
KJ: I don’t want to talk in detail about that right now. But not only Aiden is infected, everyone in the city is infected. That’s a thing to keep in mind during the gameplay. And yes, it’s going to have some consequences on the gameplay, but let’s keep the details for later.
TF: Techland has previously said that Dying Light 2’s world is four times larger than Dying Light’s. One problem games can run into when worlds get too big is that it feels like there’s nothing to do in large chunks of the map. How are you making sure that Dying Light 2’s map feels dense?
KJ: It was really difficult. As you said, the goal was to have no loading, no different maps, just one map that is really, really big. It’s going to provide the feeling of a living city. There’s a lot of things to do and every inch is playable so you can climb on top of every building, search every interior. To do that, we have to change the tech behind the game to support the feeling of a living city, not something that is very empty in the end.
To do that, we changed the technology that is now called C Engine. So this is a brand new engine we are developing on in house. It gives us the opportunity to stream and expound every activity we want around the player so it’s not an empty world. There’s dynamically calculated, let’s say, logic around the player.
TF: Which region of the map do you like playing in the most?
KJ: It depends on my player setup. When you’re a basic player with a basic player set up, you are not able to get everything in the higher regions and buildings. When you have a well developed player, every region has different pluses. You have to figure out how to combine the tools and skills of your character to get maximum speed out of parkour and traversal. It’s the same in combat. Different enemies and the different groups you will fight with will lead to different approaches on the combat side. You’ll see after several fights that it’s sometimes better to hang back and sometimes it’s better to start the fight right away.
So it’s going to be up to you how you’re going to feel comfortable with different setups of your character. We want Aiden to just be a vessel, with the player being the moral compass of Aiden. Each Aiden is going to be different depending on not only the choices people make in the story, but also about how people express themselves in gameplay.
TF: This demo was a bit more obvious in its decision, but Techland has made it clear that there are choices that are pivotal in opening up or changing regions. Do you guys let players know at those points that if a certain decision is made, a region will disappear or there will be world changing consequences?
KJ: Not at all. We want to keep it like it is in real life. You don’t always know what the outcome of your decisions will be and you have to live with them. There’s going to be some decisions that you can manipulate the outcome of, so it may not end up being that hard for you. In general though, no. There’s no saving on demand, there’s autosave after the decisions so you’ll have to live with it. But then you can replay the game and change [your decisions], or you can join other players’ games to see if the results of someone who made a different decision.
TF: When the plot does come to a head with so many branching narratives, do they all converge back to the same thing or will Dying Light 2’s endings all be different?
KJ: No, I can confirm that there are multiple endings and depending on your choices you will get access to one of them.
TF: Recent zombie games like Days Gone and World War Z have featured massive hordes of zombies for players to face down. As this is not the case in Dying Light 2, how is Techland ensuring that the zombies stay interesting, relevant, and scary?
KJ: We did the same [with zombies] in the first title, so we are pretty sure it is going to do the job here. We have locations where things are really, really tense. What you’ve seen in the demo is the Dark Zone, where zombies are gathering to avoid the sun, which is harmful to them. They are hiding in those places and entering those places is not easy for the player, even in the day as it is crowded with the infected. When you do that, you have to be equipped with many tools and have to be a skilled player. On the other hand, you can just run away and find a quicker way to get out of the Dark Zone because you are going to be dead.
TF: As a developer, do you have any thoughts on Google Stadia as a streaming platform?
KJ: As Tymon said, we believe it can be the future of gaming. Following his words, when you can play a game on a refrigerator, that’s what we want. We want to play on every screen, everywhere, with everyone. I’d want to continue the game I just started in my house when I’m in my car, maybe a Tesla, and continue playing. This is the future, we believe, and if the tech is already there let’s check it out.
TF: Is there any other specific feature of Dying Light 2 that you would like to highlight to DualShockers’ audience?
KJ: I’d say it’s going to be the choices and consequences, because this is something new. This is another pillar of the game, something we are adding to the Dying Light DNA. It really matters in the game what choices you make, how you progress the game, and the at the very end we hope that you will be surprised with the outcome.
Answers from Q&A with Tymon Smektała
TF: Does driving vehicles return in Dying Light 2? How important is it to gameplay?
Tymon Smektała: Yes, but this is exotic gameplay for us. It is not something we focus on. It is something we add for you to have a little variety. So yes, you will be able to drive vehicles and you will be able to ride in the passagener seat, but this is not the focus of your traversal options. What we are focusing on is the parkour options, your ability to move through the environment. Sometimes we need to introduce new tools and gadgets for you to use like the paraglider.
As I said, it is very useful when the gaps between buildings are quite large. That was a central and modern part of the city with some skyscrapers, so you need a tool like that to make the traversal easier. It’s a parkour game first and foremost, vehicles are just something we added so you can have some extra fun with the game.
TF: As a designer, what are your thoughts on Google Stadia and game streaming in general?
TS: I think this might be the future, but I’m not sure if the tech is there. This needs to be proven in real life conditions. I think that’s the question mark over everyone’s head: Will this really work as we expect this to work? This will only work if it really is something you can use to play on your mobile phone, or even use to play Dying Light 2 on your refrigerator. A lot of folks have refrigerators with screens on them [chuckles]. That’s the future for me. If I’m able to play my game on any screen, in a Tesla car or whatever, this is what I want to have and this is the future. I don’t know if we are already there because this needs to be tested in real life. But there is huge potential for sure.